Before I could really distinguish the difference between chicks and eggs, this dish stirred sentiments of dread in my impressionable 3 year old mind. Poor chicks! If I was bad I’d end up like them; a lost soul half-cooked in a perpetual state of limbo. I’ve only really started to appreciate Eggs in Purgatory in my adulthood as I learnt to remove the stigma of Catholic guilt and of course wised up to the fact that unfertilized eggs would not become chicks.
In my Nonna’s Neapolitan kitchen this dish was a staple. Cheap and quick to prepare, Eggs in Purgatory makes for a nutritious meal in the absence of meat.
Its one of those dishes I adore because it illustrates my favorite saying ‘Una Faccia Una Razza.’ One face, One race.
The dish is found in many forms all over the Mediterranean from North Africa and Israel (Shakshuka) to Turkey (Menemen) and cities or regions in between, such as Napoli.
Here is our family recipe:
500g (1 Jar) Passata
1 Clove Garlic
1 tbsp chopped Oregano (fresh.)
Pinch of dried Chili flakes.
1 tbsp Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
Heat olive oil and garlic clove in a pan over a gentle flame giving time for the garlic to infuse.
Add passata and turn up heat. Bring to a simmer and continue to cook for ten minutes until sauce has reduced slightly. Season to taste and add half of your oregano and a pinch of dried chili flakes.
Gently drop in eggs one at a time, (I usually add one for luck, I think that Catholic guilt has stayed with me..), cover pan and reduce flame.
Eggs are ready when whites have set – I like my eggs with a runny yolk. This should take about ten minutes.
Serve sprinkled with remaining oregano and crusty bread.